Climate demands we transition away from fossil fuels

Norman A. Bishop

Climate change is exacerbating extreme weather events across the world, causing thousands of deaths and leading to damages in the trillions of dollars. What’s more, it could make parts of the planet uninhabitable this century.

This year has brought scorching heatwaves to the Southwestern United States, disastrous hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to the Gulf Coast, and widespread wildfires to Montana and other western United States. Their impacts fall disproportionately on low-income communities. While none of these events are in and of themselves a product of climate change, the intensity and record-breaking nature of these events is unarguably linked to climate change.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report over 600 people die annually from extreme heat, while thousands of others are hospitalized.

While the economic cost of climate change will vary across regions, we know it will increase income inequality. Since 1980, 212 weather and climate disasters reached or exceeded $1 billion in overall damages. The total cost of these events is over $1.2 trillion. Historically, 2005 was the costliest due to several tropical cyclones, and 2012 was the second most costly due to the extreme U.S. drought and Superstorm Sandy driving the losses. The cost of extreme weather events in 2017 are poised to exceed any previous year, due to record-breaking storms, wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves.

One solution to reducing the impacts of extreme weather is to transition off fossil fuels as quickly as possible. The Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (the OFF Act) does that. It charts a path for the United States to achieve 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2035, and prioritizes environmental justice. Sens. Daines and Tester, and Rep. Gianforte need to hear from you about that.